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Essential Truths of the Christian Faith Paperback – February 1, 1998
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About the Author
Dr. R. C. Sproul is chairman and president of Ligonier Ministries, an organization that provides biblical and theological training for laypeople. He is the Minister of Preaching and Teaching at Saint Andrews Chapel in Sanford, Florida and has served as a professor at Reformed Theological Seminary, Knox Seminary, Westminster Seminary California, and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. The author of many books on the Bible and Christian doctrine, including the award-winning The Holiness of God, he also hosts the international radio program "Renewing Your Mind," heard in over 120 countries.
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1) Everyone is a theologian - but most people are weak theologians (In other words everyone - even atheists have an opinion about God and truth). This book helps you to become a better theologian. It covers all the major doctrines of the Bible in a succinct, logical, and clear manner.
2) It's organization - Each chapter is brief, yet packed with a practical discussion of the doctrine; evidence for it's importance from the Scriptures; an itemized summary listing the major points made in the chapter (usually 5-6 key points); and a list of 5-6 Biblical references for further reflection and study.
3) It's breadth and depth of coverage - It is divided up into Major Doctrinal sections with sub topics for each doctrine - therefore it can be used as q quick reference tool on 102 different topics of the Scripture. For example, under the first section on Revelation of the Scriptures, you can look up chapter 7 on "The Canon of Scripture" to see how the Bible came to be formed and accepted as the authoritative Word of God, or chapter 8 on some basic principles of "How to Interpret the Bible."
Here are the Contents of the Book (Each Chapter is Approximately 2-4 pages long:
Section I. Revelation (1. Divine Revelation; 2. Paradox, Mystery, and Contradiction; 3. Immediate, and Mediate General Revelation; 4. Special Revelation and the Bible; 5. The Law of God; 6. The Prophets of God; 7. The Canon of the Bile; 8. Interpreting the Bible; 9. Private Interpretation)
Section II The Nature and Attributes of God (10. The Incomprehensibility of God; 11. The Tri-unity of God; 12. The Self-Existence of God; 13: The Omnipotence of God; 14. The Omnipresence of God; 15. The Omniscience of God; 16. The Holiness of God; 17. The Goodness of God; 18. The Justice of God)
Section III The Works and Decrees of God (19. Creation; 20. Providence; 21. Miracles; 22. The Will of God; 23. Covenant; 24. Covenant of Works)
Section IV. Jesus Christ (25. The Deity of Christ; 26. The Subordination of Christ; 27. The Humanity of Christ; 28. The Sinlessness of Christ; 29. The Virgin Birth; 30. Jesus Christ as the Only Begotten; 31. The Baptism of Christ; 32. The Glory of Christ; 33. The Ascension of Christ; 34. Jesus Christ as Mediator; 35. The Threefold Office of Christ; 36. The Titles of Jesus)
Section V. The Holy Spirit (37. The Deity of the Holy Spirit; 38. The Personality of the Holy Spirit; 39. The Internal Testimony of the Holy Spirit; 40. The Illumination of the Holy Spirit; 41. The Baptism of the Holy Spirit; 42. The Holy Spirit as Comforter; 43. The Holy Spirit as Sanctifier)
Section VI. Human Beings and the Fall (44. Knowledge of Self and Knowledge of God; 45. Human Beings Created in the Image of God; 46. Human Beings as Body and Soul; 47. Human Beings as Flesh and Spirit; 48. Satan; 49. Demons; 50. Sin; 51. Original Sin; 52. Human Depavity; 53. Human Conscience; 54. The Unfrogiveable Sin; 55. Syncretism)
Section VII. Salvation (56. Salvation; 57. Predestination; 58. Predestination and Reprobation; 59. Effectual Calling; 60. Rebirth; 61. Atonement; 62. Definite Atonement; 63. Free Will; 64. Faith; 65. Saving Faith; 66. Justification by Faith; 67. Faith and Works; 68. Repentance; 69. Merit and Grace; 70. Perseverance of the Saints; 71. The Assurance of Salvation; 72. The Intermediate State; 73. The Last Resurrection; 74. Glorification)
Section VIII. The Church and Sacraments (75. The Apostles; 76. The Church; 77. The Marks of a True Church; 78. Excommunication; 79. The Sacraments; 80. Baptism; 81. Infant Baptism; 82. The Lord's Supper; 83. Transubstantiation; 84. The Sabbath; 85. Oaths and Vows)
Section IX. Spirituality and Living in This Age (86. The Fruit of the Spirit; 87. Love; 88. Hope; 89. Prayer; 90. Antinomianism; 91. Legalism; 92. The Threefold Use of the Law; 93. Perfectionism; 94. Civil Government; 95. Marriage; 96. Divorce)
Section X. End Times (97. The Antichrist; 98. The Return of Christ; 99. The Kingdom of God; 100. Heaven; 101. The Beatific Vision. 102. Hell)
Suggested Reading: He lists two-five helpful books for each of the ten sections.
I don't agree with everything Sproul says in this book (He is a Covenant Theologian - I am coming from more of a "Reformed Baptist" perspective), however, I always learn something, or I'm reminded of something important whenever I read him. He is a master communicator - He is a deep and practical thinker, and easy to understand. I think he is the finest theologian of our generation. I believe anyone reading or using this book as a quick reference and introduction to all the major doctrines of the Bible will benefit immensely from its contents. I have given this book to many High School and College Graduates over the years, as well as to new followers of Jesus Christ. Many of those recipients have gone on to become outstanding students and teachers of God's Word.
Oh, there's a plethora of "evangelical" gobble'd-gook out there for sure. But I've grown tired of having to proof-read every one of them for orthodoxy only to find they are full of man-centered doctrines, rather than Christ-centered doctrines. I've spent far too much time undoing the the damage done by such books, which would have been better spent just writing a book myself. This is a sad indictment/commentary on the state of "evangelical Christianity" today when you have to reach back more than 20 yrs. just find something trustworthy.
Happily, faithful men of God such as Dr. R.C. Sproul are still around, and so are their books. I have no hesitation whatsoever in recommending his books. They're concise, orthodox, and not written over the average layman's head.
God bless "RC", and may his tribe increase.
N. Edwards, Ca.
Essential Truths of the Christian Faith spends three or fewer pages describing each of the 100 most intriguing topics in Christian doctrine. Dr. Sproul helps to easily describe the Calvinist or Reformed view point in a way that is comprehendible for all.
This work does not go into scholarly discussions about these topics. It is not intended for that. What it does do is provide an introduction or refresher on the issues. If you pick up this book thinking you will find weighty and in-depth arguments, move on. Dr. Sproul has written dozens of other books for that. This book is designed to provide overviews and basic understanding.
Don't get me wrong. Sproul covers some very heavy topics like the Canon of Scripture, the Omnipotence of God, Jesus as Mediator, Predestination, Free Will, the Sabbath, Legalism and so much more. With every topic being no more then three pages, this book is a perfect resource for daily devotionals, Bible studies or family devotionals. In addition each topic concludes with summary statements and supporting Bible passages. There is also a very useful Scripture index at the end.
Sproul's Essential Truths of the Christian Faith is a great work for any new believer or advanced theologian. It is something you will refer back to often.